MIL-OSI United Nations: Deputy Secretary-General Briefs Member States on Key Action Areas to Advance Sustainable Development, Tackle Climate Crisis, Recover Inclusively

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Source: United Nations 4

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at a briefing to Member States, in Geneva today:

Thank you for joining this briefing today.  It is a pleasure to be back in Geneva as we continue to strengthen synergies between the United Nations work in New York, Geneva and beyond.

We meet at a crucial time.  Our world is still reeling from the COVID‑19 pandemic and facing a deeply uneven recovery.  We are struggling to prevent a catastrophic collapse of climate and biodiversity.

We are facing growing levels of poverty and inequality and dramatic reversals in gender equality.  Trust in public institutions is waning, societies are becoming more divided, human rights are under attack and we are failing to stem the tide of humanitarian need, conflict and instability.

And yet, in all of this, we know there is still reason for hope and that a better future is not just possible but within our grasp.  In September, the Secretary-General presented his report on Our Common Agenda, aimed at strengthening and accelerating the implementation of existing international frameworks, particularly the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Today, I would like to touch on five areas that are at the heart of that call and that can only be advanced through a more inclusive, effective, networked multilateralism, particularly here in Geneva.

First, ending the pandemic.  COVID‑19 continues its destructive march, now claiming over 5 million lives and causing severe disruption to economies and societies.

While wealthy countries are rolling out third doses of the COVID‑19 vaccine, only about 6 per cent of people in Africa are fully vaccinated.  As the Secretary-General has said, this is a global shame.

The Global COVID‑19 Vaccination Strategy, launched by the Secretary-General and the World Health Organization (WHO) last month, provides a credible and costed plan to tame the virus.

We can and we must get vaccines into the arms of 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of this year — and 70 per cent by the middle of 2022.  I urge all Member States to fully support reaching these achievable targets.

And through your discussions this week at the World Health Assembly Special Session, we can also help put in place a more effective pandemic preparedness architecture for the future.

Second, on climate change, the outcomes from the United Nations Climate Change Conference are an important step, but they fall far short of what is needed.  [The goal of holding climate change to] 1.5°C is on life support.

It is time to go into emergency mode.  Every tenth of a degree matters.  We must accelerate climate action in this decade to have a viable and more secure pathway to net zero by 2050.

We must end fossil fuels subsidies, phase out coal, put a price on carbon and build the resilience of vulnerable communities against the here and now impacts of climate change.  Donor countries have to make good on the $100 billion climate finance commitment to support developing countries, including doubling of adaptation finance.

We continue to see major growth in net zero commitments from diverse stakeholders.  To address the deficit of credibility and a surplus of confusion around net zero targets, the Secretary-General announced that he will establish a Group of Experts to propose clear standards to measure and analyse net zero commitments from non-State actors.

Adaptation was a central topic in Glasgow and the decision taken to double adaptation finance — a priority of the Secretary-General for the last year — was vital.  Next year’s COP27 [the twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] in Sharm el-Sheikh will be an opportunity to mark progress on climate adaptation and climate finance, including on issues relating to access and “quality” of finance.  A key demand by developing countries on creating a facility and work programme on loss and damage to provide adequate support has not been met yet.

Third, on financing for sustainable development.  Many countries, including the vulnerable middle-income countries, are still lacking the resources needed to invest in a sustainable and inclusive recovery and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Urgent efforts are needed to resolve long-standing challenges in the global financial and debt architecture to bolster resilience against future shocks.  We also need to work with the private sector and multilateral development banks to develop innovative financing tools, help lower risk and draw capital to bankable, job-creating projects to accelerate recovery.

Today, I will participate in the Building Bridges Summit, which provides us with an opportunity to join forces between New York and Geneva to drive finance to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Fourth, on social inclusion.  The pandemic has shown just how precarious recent development gains have been.  It has also highlighted massive underinvestment in essential public services, and the millions of people who remain completely out of reach.

If we are to get the Sustainable Development Goals back on track and give everyone a fair shot in life, then a dramatic change is needed in how countries approach and prioritize investment in people.

In September, the United Nations and the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection, with the aim of creating at least 400 million jobs by 2030, primarily in the green and care economies, and extending social protection floors to over 4 billion people currently not covered.  I urge all countries to get behind this initiative.

Next September, the Secretary-General will hold the Transforming Education Summit with a view to averting a generational catastrophe and rethinking education systems, so that learners everywhere are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in our rapidly changing world.  I look forward to working with all delegations and all partners to maximize the Summit’s impact.

Fifth, I want to note the success of the Food Systems Summit, which, over the course of a 20-month process, engaged hundreds of thousands of people around the world to leverage the power of food systems for the Sustainable Development Goals.

The momentum generated by the Summit must be maintained and taken to the next level to deliver results on the ground, particularly with the provision of demand-driven support to countries.  A robust follow-up effort will be led through a Food Systems Coordination Hub, operational as of January 2022.

Sixth and finally, on the reform of the United Nations development system.  The recently adopted General Assembly resolution on the review of the Resident Coordinator system provides a strong endorsement of the progress made since the ambitious reforms were approved in 2018.  I commend governing bodies for their crucial role in this regard.

The resolution highlighted areas where further progress was needed.  This includes on adherence to the dual reporting lines and more effective reporting on results.  Member States also highlighted the need for the Resident Coordinator system to be fully funded to respond to the increase in demands that the recovery and Sustainable Development Goals implementation will place on the United Nations in country.  The Secretary-General and I will do all in our power to support this.  I invite all Member States to come forward, with contributions commensurate with their relative share and their ambitions for the reform.  Every contribution counts.

In closing, I would like to commend the United Nations family and staff here in Geneva, who have been supporting Member States during these very challenging times.  They have demonstrated outstanding resilience over the past two years and a strong commitment to deliver concrete improvements in people’s lives.

Our world continues to face enormous challenges — but by working together, by understanding each other, by finding common ground and increasing the ambition, we can make a decisive difference.  I look forward to your feedback and questions and I thank you for your ongoing support.

For information media. Not an official record.

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